Manukau Harbour Forum hopes report will bring funding boost

The Manukau Harbour is seen as a significant cultural, ecological, social, and economic taonga.

But it is deteriorating - and a report into the Manukau Harbour Forum, which is supposed to turn that around, says it's failing in its mission. 

But, ironically, that's something the forum itself already knew.

"How could we be anything but?" says Saffron Toms, former chair of the Manukau Harbour Forum. "We're not resourced, we're not a decision-making authority. We don't have the power or money to put into the harbour."

The forum was set up in 2010 to look into ways of improving the worsening state of the harbour. 

But nine years on, members say they've had a lack of influence, slow progression, and inadequate funding.

"The council is not giving enough resource and energy simply by enabling some local board representatives to get around the table and have a korero about what needs to be done," says Toms.

In 2016, the harbour's overall ecological health grade was rated a D. Two years later it decreased to an E. 

But different places have different needs, and different grades.

The harbour falls across nine local boards, with a voluntary representative from each one on the forum.

Despite the size, the report found there wasn't enough integration across those board boundaries. It also found a lack of regional council involvement and responsibility.

The review made 18 recommendations overall. Some, like appointing a project coordinator, have been easy to adopt. But others, like a report into the state of the harbour, will take a lot longer.

"This is the opportunity of the Super City, but it's the responsibility now," says Toms.

The group now plans to use the report to take a business case to the council for more funding - and more power.